Maybe I have viewed one too many James Bond films, but I have always had a love affair with with an Aston Martin (and throw in Audi, Mercedes and Jag too while you are at it). One of the first films I recall seeing as a child was Goldfinger and images of the sleek, racy and chic James Bond car of choice have stayed with me to this day.
For the l964 film Goldfinger, production designer Ken Adam designed the gadget laden, hand built and customized DB5 as the ultimate dream adventure car complete with everything a member of the British intelligence could want. Sophisticated, elegant and ultra stylish, the automobile with the combo platter of Italian design mixed with British engineering featured all the accoutrements for high level spy games -- a honing device complete with radar style tracking screen, rotating license plates, oil spray, smoke screen, bullet proof shield, front firing machine guns and a tire shredder --reminiscent of the chariot wheels from Ben Hur.
|Bullet proof shield|
|Ben Hur style tire shredders|
Automobiles in the sixties were pure status symbols and none more so than the Aston Martin. And the fact that the venerable car manufacturer only built a thousand at a cost of $4300 pounds or so during the early sixties made it all the more enviable. Paul McCartney certainly thought so and immediately purchased one after the film's debut. Today Bond alum Pierce Brosnan drives a silver Aston Martin Vanquish (reportedly a gift from his 007 days) while other famous owners have included Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant, Rowan Atkinson, Jennifer Lopez and Prince Charles who converted his 38 year old classic to run on bioethanol fuel distilled from surplus British wine. (Apparently the car averages ten miles a gallon which is 4.5 bottles of wine). Royal watchers will no doubt recognize the car as the getaway mobile recently used by Prince William and Kate Middleton after their wedding.
|Prince Charles and his Aston Martin DB6|
|The Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge's car of choice on their wedding day|
|Pierce Brosnan in his Aston Martin Silver Vanquish|
The 1964 DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball was sold at auction last year to a collector from Ohio for 2.6 million pounds (the original was purchased for $12,000 in l969). Only four were built for the film and one was stolen at an airport hangar in Boca Raton in l997 with a rumored insurance payout to be in the neighborhood of 4.2 million (note to police, it's not in my garage). While we mere mortals do not need the more expensive tricked out version (although there are days I would love to own an ejector seat), today's Aston Martin will set you back 200,000 with the Vantage V8 (my fantasy vehicle of choice) a bargain at 120-133,000 (note to self, buy lotto ticket).
|I'd rather have a V8: The Aston Martin Vantage S Coupe V8|
|Daniel Craig's Aston Martin for Casino Royale|
|Brosnan's Aston Martin for Goldeneye|
|Sean Connery's memorable aerial entrance to his DB5 in 1965's Thunderball|
|V12 Vanquish as seen in Die Another Day|
|Cars 2 Finn McMissile|
Dubbed as the world's most famous car, I clearly have ride lust for an Aston Martin. And with top speeds that can hit up to 145 mph, my lead feet would be quite happy.
To read more, check out the Aston Martin website.
And a special thanks to my friend and designer Joe Ruggiero who turned me on to the website Paradise Leased, literally a treasure trove of history, architecture and people of historic Hollywood. Wonderful!
Photo Credits: MGM, Aston Martin, Pixar